by Eben Griger
The 1995 SNES RPG Chrono Trigger was ported to PC this past week, and fans are not happy with the product. The original game is commonly referred to as “the best video game of all time,” mostly for it’s influence on modern games of the genre, such as multiple endings, character development and a unique combat system. Chrono Trigger had boasted a “dream team” of developers, including those who worked on Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball prior to the development of Chrono Trigger.
So naturally, fans were excited to be able to play Chrono Trigger on their PC. Unfortunately, much of this excitement dwindled rather quickly as fans started to play the re-release. What they were greeted with was muddy visuals, fonts not in the original, and inputs for touch-based controls even when using a mouse and keyboard or controller. It quickly became clear that the PC release was a port of the mobile version of the game, not the original.
And muddy really is the best way to describe the visuals of the PC release. The pixels aren’t sharp, and the colors aren’t bright. And while the graphics were technically improved, much of the original detail has been lost.
When Ball State Assistant professor of Journalism Renee Human was asked how much of a difference this makes, she explained it to us in simpler terms.
When we first started playing games on our mobile phones, we were probably looking at 480 pixels across.
Which we were, the iPhone 4, which the mobile port was released on, had dimensions of 320×480.
“So were going from about 480 pixels across to up to 2200 pixels across (a rough estimate for computer screens),” Human continued. “So we’re taking something and making it five times bigger… you’re just going to loose all quality you had at that smaller resolution.”
And quality wasn’t all that was lost in the port. Many fans have a soured taste of Square Enix, the developer of Chrono Trigger and their ability to, well, develop. “It’s kind of an amateur thing to do.” Professor Human said. “It’s something you’d expect from someone doing mods, but not from the company itself.”
Perhaps the most offended by this changed version, or the lack thereof, are the players who experienced the original Chrono Trigger in 1995. “My generation, we are really steeped in nostalgia, and we want some of these old games,” Human says. And this seems to be the consensus of many players.
— Fred Wood (@thatsmytrunks) February 27, 2018
The re-release of Chrono Trigger paints an interesting picture of what’s to come. With the direction technology is going, many modern machines are too much for older games to be ported on to in an unedited state. This leaves developers with two options, either rebuild the game completely so it is compatible with modern machines or release a product that isn’t optimized simply for the sake of capitalizing on nostalgia.
Square Enix did the latter, but the backlash it received in doing so may be enough to convince other developers to try the former in the future.